Arkansas Healthcare

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed legislation continuing the state's compromise Medicaid expansion, while the Senate has given final approval to creating a task force to look at alternatives for covering those on the program.

A spokesman says Hutchinson signed the funding measure into law on Monday. The legislation reauthorizes the state's "private option" through June 30, 2016. Under the private option, Arkansas uses federal funds to buy private insurance for low-income residents.

UAMS Annouces $1.3 Million Grants

Feb 9, 2015
Dan Rahn
Carmien Penny / KUAR News

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences announced it has received a total of $1.3 million in grants from Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and its Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas. The largest of the three donations is worth $1 million and will establish a chair in primary care. The position will be a UAMS-wide chair, and not fixed within a specific college.

With state lawmakers and Gov. Asa Hutchinson having deflected the rancorous debate regarding the Private Option we’ve seen in recent years, the issue still has a long way to go in terms of public opinion.

Hutchinson and legislative leaders have successfully secured future funding the Private Option and created a task force of 16 lawmakers to provide recommendations for a future program that may enact larger health care reforms.

Rep. Kelley Linck (R-Yellville) and Rep. Joe Farrer (R-Austin) presenting Arkansas's plan on Medicaid expansion to the House Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas’s version of Medicaid expansion, branded as the private option, is headed to the House floor. The governor’s proposal to continue the plan through 2016 and to create a task force to recommend Medicaid reforms afterward passed out of committee Tuesday.

John Cooper senator
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

The Arkansas Senate has voted to continue the state's compromise Medicaid expansion for another year and create a task force to look at alternatives for the hundreds of thousands of low-income Arkansas residents receiving coverage through the program.

The Senate voted 29-2 Thursday to reauthorize the state's "private option," which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents. The Senate also approved by a 27-7 vote the creation of a task force to look at alternatives and reforms to the state's Medicaid system.

While Gov. Asa Hutchinson has made it clear he wants to keep Arkansas' compromise Medicaid expansion in place through the end of next year, what's less certain is what happens after then for the thousands receiving health coverage through the program.

Asa Hutchinson private option medicaid
Arkansas Times

Arkansas’s Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson is calling for the state’s Republican controlled legislature to keep funding its version of Medicaid expansion, at least for two more years, without adding any changes. Hutchinson revealed his position Thursday for the first time in an address at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Governor Asa Hutchinson (R)
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR News

Governor Asa Hutchinson will for the first time reveal to Arkansans what he thinks should happen to the state’s Medicaid expansion plan in a speech Thursday morning at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.. The insurance program for over 220,000 Arkansans – known as the private option - faces a tough three-fourths vote this legislative session, as it did in the last, for re-authorization.

State Rep. Julie Mayberry (R-East End)
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

A bill filed Thursday in the Arkansas legislature seeks to prevent women from having a drug-induced abortion administered by a doctor via telemedicine. Two Republican women, state Senator Missy Irvin of Mountain Home and state Representative Julie Mayberry of East End, sponsored the legislation requiring a doctor to be physically present when a woman takes Mifepristone (RU-486). The attending physician must also attempt to make a follow-up appointment.

An screenshot from near its launch.

Arkansans who are still looking to sign up for health coverage on the Insurance Marketplace have about one month to due so. For those who want their coverage to begin on February 1st, the deadline is Thursday. So far, at least 51,801 Arkansans have signed up for coverage on About 53,000 residents signed up for coverage during the last open enrollment period.

Seth Blomely, Communications and Policy Research Manager at the Arkansas Insurance Department says the current open enrollment period is going more smoothly this time around.